Thursday, November 10, 2005

Now this is just sick

Via Laura Rozen:

Chalabi to visit wounded US troops at Walter Reed.

Sick and depraved.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005


You, and your reporting, will be missed.


Don't let the door hit your ass too hard on the way out.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Instant Karma?

Ohplease ohplease ohplease let this be true. From Raw Story (via Reddhedd at firedoglake):

Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) told CNN's Ed Henry Tuesday afternoon that he believed it was a Republican senator who gave information about secret CIA jails abroad to the Washington Post, RAW STORY can report.

Lott said that much of the information contained in the Post report -- which stated that the U.S. was holding terrorist suspects in secret CIA jails overseas -- was discussed at a meeting of Republican senators last Tuesday.

The revelation appears to torpedo the political gambit of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) who called on the Senate and House intelligence committees to investigate who leaked the information to the Post.

That's it, if this pans out, I'm going to dust off my copy of the Upanishads and convert to Hinduism.

UPDATE: CNN has confrimed this much. Trent Lott indeed told a roomful of reporters that he believes that a Republican Senator and/or staffer leaked the "black sites" story to the Post. According to CNN's Ed Henry, Lott "stunned reporters" by disclosing that the "black sites" were discussed at a republican-Senators-only luncheon with Dick Cheney the day before the Post article ran (once again, the image of a beer hall in Munich around 1923 leaps to mind, don't know why). Apparently Lott complained that "we can't keep our mouths shut" and that "every word that was said in there [i.e., inn the Minich-beer-hall luncheon] went right to the newspaper." Wolf Blitzer then dons his Captain Obvious suit and says, "this could really boomerang against the Republican leadership." ThinkProgress has the video.

There can be no doubt (to use the immoral words of the Big Dick himself) that this is an hilarious spectacle. And I do hope that Lott's instinct is correct and that at least one source for the Dana Priest article is a Republican Senator or Senate staffer. But I'm getting a distinctly fishy whiff from Lott's statements. First of all, taking Lott's statements at face value (perilous, I know), he is basing his belief in the GOP origin of the leak on the coincidence of the article coming out the day after the black sites were discussed at a GOP-Senator-and-Cheney luncheon putsch and the similarities between what was related in the meeting and what Dana Priest reported in the Post. That is, to be sure, a might big co-ink-ee-dink. But I have a number of problems with the Lott scenario all the same:

The Post article simply does not look like something that was dashed off in less than one day on the basis of a leak from a Senator or hill staffer. To the contrary, looking first just at the substance of the thing, it appears to be a throughly researched piece, with a great deal of background and context woven into it, not simply a wad of Capitol Hill dish. Moreover, even allowing for some of the, shall we say, vagaries of how reporters describe anonymous sources, the piece is sourced variously to: "U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement"; "current and former intelligence officials and diplomats from three continents"; "officials familiar with the program"; "current and former and U.S. and foreign government and intelligence officials"; "four current and former officials"; and, more specifically, in some instances to "a former senior intelligence officer who worked in the CIA's Counterterrorist Center"; "another former senior CIA official"; and "a senior CIA officer." If we were dealing with Judith Miller rather than Dana Priest, I might be less credulous, but I'd say it is very safe to say that Priest has at least four sources, probably more -- at a minimum, two distinct former CIA officials (part of the Goss purge, no doubt), one current CIA official (that's one brave hombre), one or more current or former State officials. I would like to think that there's somebody at Justice with a conscience and a set of cojones as well.

I listened to Dana Priest's interview on the Diane Rehm show last week, and in it Priest convincingly and credibly painted a picture of a story that has been long in the making and that is based on disclsoures from a variety of long-cultivated sources. She was rather cagey when asked why those sources suddenly decided to talk about the black sites; her response was that it was due to the dogged pursuit of the information (or words to that effect), which is certainly tantalizing. But I was convinced -- especially having read the article -- of her veracity on the matter of the article's development.

None of this, of course, excludes the possibility that one of Priest's sources was a GOP Senator or Hill staffer. Indeed, some of the information reported smells like it might have come from the Hill (e.g., "[t]he CIA and the White House . . . have dissuaded Congress from demanding that the agency answer questions [about the treatment of CIA-held prisoners] in open testimony" or "[m]ost of the facilities were built and are maintained with congressionally appropriated funds, but the White House has refused to allow the CIA to brief anyone except the House and Senate intelligence committees' chairmen and vice chairmen on the program's generalities"). But what I have briefly cataloged above certainly leads me to doubt that a Hill souce -- if one does exist -- was anything like the prime source for the piece.

It also is possible that Lott knows more than he is letting on and that he actually does have some inside info on a GOP leak. But color me very, very suspicious. Let's hope Lott's not handing the Democrats a boomerang.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Paint it black

Earning a few more chutzpah points (after extending a giant middle finger to Fitzgerald, not to mention the civilized portion of the planet's population, with the promotion of David "Torture Memo" Addington and John "Yeah Let's Get Wislon" Hannah to replace the two positions formerly filled by mini-me Libby) the Cheney administration decided it was time to wheel Stephen Hadley out of the wings to talk some fer'n policy. And, fortuitously, it did so just as two stories began to peek out of the water: (1) the Niger-forgeries caper and Mr. Hadley's eyeball-deep involvement therein; and (2) the Cheney Administration's Own Private Gulag Archipelago.

Without plumbing what Jack Shaefer aptly calls the "deep weeds" of the Niger forgery story (aka "The Italian Job"), suffice to say that Hadley's Sept. 9, 2002 meeting with Italian intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari is an awfully big co-ink-ee-dink, given (a) the Sept. 8, 2002 launch of the White House Iraq Group's grand bamboozlement campaign (aka Project Silver-Bullet-Smoking-Gun-Mushroom-Cloud), a major feature of which was the notion that Iraq was on the brink of fetching tons of yellowcake uranium, (b) the U.S.'s prior receipt, confirmed by even the Silberman whitewash report, of verbatim transcriptions of the Niger forgeries from Itallian intelligence sources, and (c) the subsequent transmission of the forgeries themselves from the U.S. Embassy in Rome to Washington (perhaps directly to the White House), by way of an Italian journalist working for Berlusconi's paper Panorama. (Confused yet? That's just the very tips of the weeds peeking out amid the pond scum.)

It looks as though there's just too much confirmation out there that Hadley had the meeting for there to be a denial. That's OK, Hadley was prepared with the greatest of talking points: I don't really remember much of anything that did occur at that meeting, but I do recall very clearly what didn't happen at that meeting--viz., that I didn't get no dodgy documents handed to me. (As Josh Marshall astutely points out, no-one was actually making the allegation that Pollari passed Hadley the docs at that point; we all know the documents came over later. There's a a way to describe a person who gives an impromptu denial of a damning allegation that hasn't been made. What is it? Oh, yeah: GUILTY.)

Continuing this theme, Hadley then goes on to field a question about the CIA "black sites" in which he says, basically, 'We're not saying those facilities exist, but we don't mistreat anyone in those facilities if they did exist, which we're not confirming, ok?"

This would be hilarious, except for the fact that our country has set up secret prisons around the globe and is doing unspeakable things to people in them.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The gold standard

"I think the word of the United States has been as good as gold in its international dealings and in its agreements." --Condoleeza Rice

Well, it looks as though the price of gold is headed for another tumble:

CIA Holds Terror Suspects in Secret Prisons
Debate Is Growing Within Agency About Legality and Morality of Overseas System Set Up After 9/11

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 2, 2005; A01

The CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al Qaeda captives at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe, according to U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement.

The secret facility is part of a covert prison system set up by the CIA nearly four years ago that at various times has included sites in eight countries, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several democracies in Eastern Europe . . . .

The hidden global internment network . . . . depends on the cooperation of foreign intelligence services, and on keeping even basic information about the system secret from the public, foreign officials and nearly all members of Congress charged with overseeing the CIA's covert actions.

The existence and locations of the facilities -- referred to as "black sites" in classified White House, CIA, Justice Department and congressional documents -- are known to only a handful of officials in the United States and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

Hmmm, I guess if the Preznit promises to track down and "take care of" whoever leaked this classified information, we might actually take him at his word this time.

[T]he CIA has not even acknowledged the existence of its black sites. To do so, say officials familiar with the program, could open the U.S. government to legal challenges, particularly in foreign courts, and increase the risk of political condemnation at home and abroad.

Goodness! We con't have that, can we? Of course, I guess it hasn't occurred that the best way to minimize the risk of lawsuits and political condemnation for illegal and immoral activity is to, um, not engage in illegal and immoral activity.

Since [the immediate aftermath of 9/11/01], the arrangement has been increasingly debated within the CIA, where considerable concern lingers about the legality, morality and practicality of holding even unrepentant terrorists in such isolation and secrecy, perhaps for the duration of their lives. Mid-level and senior CIA officers began arguing two years ago that the system was unsustainable and diverted the agency from its unique espionage mission.

Oh, so it did occur to someone in the CIA. Oh good. There has been spirited debate on the matter. I rest much easier now.

It is illegal for the government to hold prisoners in such isolation in secret prisons in the United States, which is why the CIA placed them overseas, according to several former and current intelligence officials and other U.S. government officials.

I think the English transaltion of this passage is that administration lawyers say it violates U.S. law to do this at home but it does not violate U.S. law to do it abroad. I don't think the latter proposition is true, but I am certainly willing to believe that the administration has lawyers who say it's true.

Legal experts and intelligence officials said that the CIA's internment practices also would be considered illegal under the laws of several host countries, where detainees have rights to have a lawyer or to mount a defense against allegations of wrongdoing.

Ya think?

Host countries have signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as has the United States. Yet CIA interrogators in the overseas sites are permitted to use the CIA's approved "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques," some of which are prohibited by the U.N. convention and by U.S. military law.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Coup De Théâtre

Bravo, Harry!

A fine way to interrupt Operation Change The Subject and a damn fine bill of particulars against the lying scumbags. A taste follows:

The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really about: how the Administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions.

As a result of its improper conduct, a cloud now hangs over this Administration. This cloud is further darkened by the Administration's mistakes in prisoner abuse scandal, Hurricane Katrina, and the cronyism and corruption in numerous agencies.

And, unfortunately, it must be said that a cloud also hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold this Republican Administration accountable for its misdeeds on all of these issues.

Let's take a look back at how we got here with respect to Iraq Mr. President. The record will show that within hours of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, senior officials in this Administration recognized these attacks could be used as a pretext to invade Iraq.

The record will also show that in the months and years after 9/11, the Administration engaged in a pattern of manipulation of the facts and retribution against anyone who got in its way as it made the case for attacking Iraq.

There are numerous examples of how the Administration misstated and manipulated the facts as it made the case for war. Administration statements on Saddam's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities and ties with Al Qaeda represent the best examples of how it consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts.

Great stuff.

Not ony that, but Reid's maneuver scared/shamed Pat Roberts (R-Jesusland) into moving forward on Phase II of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's investigation into prewar intelligence on Iraq, i.e., the one that was supposed to look into whether the Cheney squad pulled a Gulf of Tonkin on a gullible press and public. (Answer: Of course they fucking did. With apologies to the Great Bearded One, history repeats itself -- the first time as tragedy and the second time as, well, tragedy.)

Good on you, Harry. Best don that flak jacket posthaste.